Sweat, Tears and Digital Ink

Personal blog of freelance writer MGMason

Tag Archives: medieval fiction

Book Review: Conquest by Stewart Binns

It is 1066 and England is about to undergo the most cataclysmic change of history since the arrival of the Roman legions. On one side, the last Saxon king Harold II. On the other side, William – Duke of Normandy, William the Bastard, William the Conqueror. The story is recreated on the Bayeux Tapestry which despite being a pro-English piece of propaganda, sites in a museum in Normandy. Harold would be killed at that battle and England would once again be ruled by those of Norse descent. The period of Norman Conquest would see a time of bloody battles but also an immense building programme of castles, towns and cities and

In the middle of the two men is a third – Hereward the Bourne. What? Never heard of him? Neither had I and I hang my head in shame – not just at this gap in my own knowledge but also at his omission from the history books. Actually, some people doubt his existence but regardless of this, his story is no less impressive and if he did exist, no less important. Read more of this post

Book Review: The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

I tend to get a moment of heart sinking when I pick a book this size off of the shelf in a book shop and will generally put it straight back unless it comes highly recommended. Too many are 200 pages of story and 1200 pages of waffle. Thankfully, that is not an accusation you can level at Pillars of the Earth. It is surprisingly easy on the eye for a doorstep sized novel and after a false start in which I only read the prologue a few weeks back, I was surprised to find I flew through the first 150 pages over the course of about 3 hours or so. So far so good.

So what is it about? A period from England’s history that many people are unfamiliar with. Of course, those with more than a basic level of history will have heard of King Stephen and might know that he was a bit of a shit (Follett supports this popular view which contrasts Ellis Peters’ potrayal). Others with more in depth knowledge might accept him as a great General but a poor monarch. Most might know that he was involved in a civil war that could have ended up with our first Queen – and appointed legitimate heir of King Henry I – Empress Matilda/Maud.

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